So what is ‘Plan B’ this summer?

Plan A is Dwight Howard.  That much is clear.  The Rockets will plan their summer around making a pitch to Lakers center Dwight Howard at the start of free agency.  He’s been the object of Morey’s desire for quite some time and for good reason.  But while that snowball in Hell gains shape, Dwight jumping ship is highly unlikely.  Skipping town doesn’t make financial sense.

So what will Houston do as Plan B?  They could sign Josh Smith outright to a long-term deal.  Smoove would vastly improve the team, but then, that’s it – that’s your group through the Harden era.  Not much room to move upward.

Just because you have money doesn’t mean you must spend it.  That’s a good recipe to stay bad for a long time.  Just ask the Pistons who famously broke the piggy bank for Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon and still haven’t recovered.  At the same time, you can’t sit on your hoard in perpetuum.  You have to make plans to spend the dough at some point.

Rather than signing Josh Smith, I think Plan B should be to pursue a 1 year placeholder.  Something like trading for Pau Gasol or targeting Andrew Bynum on a massive, 1 year contract.  That would let the team improve but keep its flexibility.  They could then target Lebron the next summer or whoever else may become available via trade.  The point is, it is better to hold onto your chips–even if it takes time–rather than splurge on the option which you know has a limited ceiling (Smith.)

Regarding Gasol, some would argue, “why bother?  He’s too old for this nucleus.”  That’s missing the point.  He wouldn’t be brought in as a long term solution.  His purpose would be to complement this set foundation of James Harden, Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons, and Omer Asik, helping them improve by helping them gain experience.  How?  Because if the team is better, then the team goes deeper in the playoffs.  Those extra reps and failures mean everything in the long-run.

That’s the beauty of having a nucleus.  Remember last year when, after the team blew away its chances at the postseason–but still held onto mathematical hope–Matt Bullard remarked on every broadcast that making the postseason was essential because of the experience it would give our players?  I took exception to that logic.  We didn’t even know if any of those players would be back, so ‘experience’ was meaningless.  It’s like hoping to buy new rims for a car you plan on trashing.  Lo and behold, no one from that team–save Parsons–is back.

It’s different now.  That aforementioned quartet is here for the long run.  That’s exciting, but more importantly it means things like ‘experience’ matter.  Not every major piece on the team has to be a part of the long-term solution.  Look at the Jazz with Stockton, Hornacek, and Malone or the Pacers with Miller, Jackson, Smits, and the Davis brothers.  Both of those squads had revolving doors of small forwards through the 90′s.  But the other cogs stayed together and their bond strengthened.

The Rockets have some time.  Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik won’t be due raises for another two years.  Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Robinson will be under cheap control in the meantime as well.  While they can afford to do it, they should be patient and make the smart move.

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Total comments: 31
  • 2016Champions says 3 months ago

    I've noticed that too, Delfinoturns into a realsourpuss whenhe gets a call he doesn't like.

  • thejohnnygold says 3 months ago

    Cool. His body language is not very subtle....let me know what you see.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 3 months ago

    When I watch the next game, I'll look out for that. I'll admit I wasn't focusing on Delfino, but I will from now on.

  • thejohnnygold says 3 months ago

    I can't argue that. I do think there are differences. For me, the crux of the problem and my complaint is the reason he is doing it. I don't mind mistakes--they happen--basketball is a fast-paced game against elite talent and bad decisions are a by-product of that. In my opinion, Delfino's apparent bad attitude is something that I cannot abide--especially given his level of experience.

    Who knows, maybe I am imagining the whole thing.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 3 months ago

    It is true that Delfino's been putting up some idiotic ISO shots, but ALL of our players do stupid stuff. Harden drives 1 on 3 EVERY chance he gets on a fast break rather than pass the ball into an open 3 even after he realizes the refs aren't calling touch fouls. Lin passes sometimes when he should shoot. TRob holds the ball low and gets stripped. All of our guys make monumental mistakes. Let's keep that in perspective when we evaluate our players.

  • thejohnnygold says 3 months ago

    Our PF's definitely need work, but Delfino has only played in that spot out of desperation. He cannot defend the PF spot as he gives up too much size.

    Here is a link that shows his splits by position (about mid-way down)

    It also shows opponent production while he plays each position. Delfino at PF is real, real bad.

    Primarily, my thinking is his 3 pt. shooting, while valuable, is all he brings to the table and I do think he hurts our chemistry. It is in this regard that I think his eventual departure will result in addition-by-subtraction.

    Watching last night's game, Delfino was over-looked on a potential fast-break followed by Harden not passing him the ball on a subsequent possession after Delfino called for it. He was noticeably agitated by this and I thought to myself, "he's about to go into iso-delfino mode". Sure enough, the next possession he came over and got the ball and proceeded to take one step back, with the defender on him and just launch a failed three-pointer. I forget exactly, but he followed that shortly after with another forced shot attempt. It subsided quickly enough and he slid back into the flow of the game where he is always much more successful. It frustrates me when he does this as it really extricates him from any concept of team play. It seems his goal is more ego-driven rather than the ultimate goal of winning the game.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 3 months ago

    Okay, I got what you were saying, I was just pointing out, that it is contingent on our PFs progressing to the point where we don't need Delfino.

  • thejohnnygold says 3 months ago

    Addition by subtraction? If we had a good SF to play behind Parsons that Delfino was taking minutes from, then I'd be with you. DMo's not ready to play 30 minutes a game and TRob's not ready to play the other PF minutes. We need Delfino right now. Maybe by the end of the year, that will change.

    Apparently, I wasn't clear. I said when he is gone. Not get rid of him now. It's a future thing. Re-read my post and it should make more sense.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 3 months ago

    Addition by subtraction? If we had a good SF to play behind Parsons that Delfino was taking minutes from, then I'd be with you. DMo's not ready to play 30 minutes a game and TRob's not ready to play the other PF minutes. We need Delfino right now. Maybe by the end of the year, that will change.

  • thejohnnygold says 3 months ago

    I know it sounds crazy given his overall good performance, but I really do think he will end up being an addition-by-subtraction once he's gone. I would prefer to trade his 3 pt. shooting for a defensive specialist. I'm hoping Morey can find one in the second round of this year's draft.

  • 2016Champions says 3 months ago

    Delfino is playing decent now but I don't really trust him come playoff time. I know value wise Delfino seems like the better option, but sometimes you get what you pay for.

  • thenit says 3 months ago

    If there is a 5 mil difference between reddick and delfino, i would not sign reddick, rather have delfino, because behind harden and parsons he will get about 15 min a game. Heavy pricetag rather save the 5 for someone else.

  • thejohnnygold says 3 months ago

    Why pay redick 8 when we have Delfino for 3? That's a lot of juice for a guy who plays behind Harden/Parsons...I think some team will give him the $10M+ he is probably looking for....or he signs with miami for $5M to join the Lebron-ettes.

  • 2016Champions says 3 months ago

    Hopefully 8 or less.

  • thejohnnygold says 3 months ago

    I like Redick too....but what's his price tag? I think he will get close to $10M per year....that's expensive.

  • 2016Champions says 3 months ago

    Plan A, B, C and D is Dwight Howard (but to be honest I don't see Dwight leaving the Lakers, lets hope I'm wrong). Plan E is JJ Reddick (Delfino has been great, but JJ would be a significant upgrade). Other than that the Rockets really don't need to make any changes, the Rockets have so many young players who are likely to improve alot as individuals,and the sheer fact of that alone will ascend the Rockets towards true contender status. For instance, I see D-Mo being a consistent 20ppg guy within 2-3 years and entering the conversation as a top 5 PF in the league - yes I'm seriously that high on this kid. Thomas Robinson doesn't look very good yet but I honestly thought he was the 2nd best player in his draft and all he needs is a little more time -he's only 21 - those 51 games on a dysfunctional Sacramento Kings team seemed to have sucked the soul out of him but I'm sure he'll get it back in Houston.

  • thejohnnygold says 3 months ago

    I actually really like the 1-year contract idea. It's an extended test drive....Josh Smith is a sports car (to continue the metaphor)...let's take it out and see what it can do...I don't think he will hinder our player's development all that much since nearly everyone can play two positions--Parsons, J. Smith, D-MO....T-Rob still needs seasoning anyways....perhaps a little time in the D-League...

    I think this move would definitely make us a contender. SA has to get old eventually, right? OKC is beatable. The Clips and Griz are beatable too. Utah, Minny, Lakers, portland....are any of them better than that on paper (or on the court in the laker's case)? Smith gives us two elite defenders on the roster (important), two stars, and more flexibility with match-ups. Also, many of the talking heads believe the Rockets offense would maximize his talents...Personally, I am concerned he'll shoot too many threes (he is ok at 33%...only shooting 29.5 % mid-range :angry: ).

  • Alituro says 3 months ago

    The one year deal scenario is interesting for Smith or Gasol in particular, because as it stands now this team is not a contender next year. But, this team could possibly contend with further development from Lin, Asik, T-rob, D-mo and Albrecht. The latter two of which have no predetermined ceilings.It is not a stretch to say that either two could equal Pau in the future, nor is it a stretch to say that T-rob could be every bit the player Smith is. I could take or leave anything that only helps us next season, but could hinder the development of our young bigs. Locker room presence and team chemistry needs to be a big concern when talking about Pau, Smith and even Dwight. I am not even completely sold on signing Dwight long term because I just don't think our team would be the same with his huge ego and prima donna like sense of entitlement. The most beautiful thing about our core squad is their lack of ego and chemistry, they all trust each other. I don't think those feelings would be reciprocated by Dwight and it could be a huge problem. (See LAL today).

    If we've determined that our nucleus is going to be Lin, Harden, Parsons and Asik, the only moves I would like to see made at this point would be with the idea of preserving this core for the next decade. Olbrecht may help us preserve Asik, as I don't think G.Smith is the right guy for the job. Right now our bench wings are Delfino and Garcia, who are ok. Courtney Lee would be nice to have right about now. Maybe Webster? The Rockets high-speed game changes when the bench comes in, but if we were able to field a more traditional roster in those times like with Beverley at the PG and T-rob and Olbrecht seemingly being more traditional bigs, if we can add some D to our bench wings then we could round off our second unit.

    Mostly though I would like to just see these guys grow and am hesitant to want to add ANY (except for LBJ or CP) established stars to our team.

  • Cooper says 3 months ago A one year deal would be interesting and your probably have to take that but there's too much risk in it for the player. If smith tore his acl that season he'd be screwed out of a lot of money and someone will be desparate enough to offer him near max money for 4yrs.
  • Jeby says 3 months ago IF we were to make a decent run into the playoffs (unlikely) and IF Motiejunas and Robinson both fizzle out (possible, hope not) then I would be totally in support of signing Smith or Gasol to a one year deal just to have a puncher's chance at a championship. If D-Mo and/or Robinson play well, and if it's clear that signing Smith or Gasol wouldn't give us a dark-horse shot at the Finals, I would say to let the young bigs develop on the court and save Mr. Alexander's money.
    By the way, I think adding one of those guys makes the Rockets a top-4 seed in the West in the short term, and I would consider any top-4 team out West a contender (#4 being the long shot).
  • Steven says 3 months ago

    It's worth bearing in mind (although I'm not advocating him as necessarily the right option to pursue) that it would make sense for Josh Smith to consider looking for a one year deal this season. As usual, Zach Lowe explains it best:

    A lot of the complaints about Smith cite locking him in for the long haul is a sure-fire path to mediocrity. A one-year deal would get around that (and I'm told that in the summer of 2013-14 there is a wider pool of Free Agents to choose from). So the question is: would we be contenders next season if we signed Smith?


    In a word, No!
  • Sir Thursday says 3 months ago

    It's worth bearing in mind (although I'm not advocating him as necessarily the right option to pursue) that it would make sense for Josh Smith to consider looking for a one year deal this season. As usual, Zach Lowe explains it best:

    • A quirk in Smith's contract status/ego. This is Smith's ninth season. Players who hit free agency after their 10th season become eligible for the highest possible max contract, one that can soak up 35 percent of the salary cap — up from 30 percent for players at Smith's current experience level. Depending on Smith's sense of his market value, there might be some incentive for him to sign a one-year deal, and then hit free agency again right away. The difference could be quite large. A straight five-year max deal with Atlanta signed this summer would pay Smith about $98 million. A one-year/four-year max in the above scenario would pay about $105 million.

    A lot of the complaints about Smith cite locking him in for the long haul is a sure-fire path to mediocrity. A one-year deal would get around that (and I'm told that in the summer of 2013-14 there is a wider pool of Free Agents to choose from). So the question is: would we be contenders next season if we signed Smith?


  • Cooper says 3 months ago For me in FA it's Dwight or nothing unless we could get mayo or a decent backup defensive center/wing stopper for a reasonable price. (Maybe draft one) no sense blowing max cap space on josh smith he's just not that guy. It will be interesting if the new CBA will cut out the big contracts to middling players like it is supposed to.
  • thenit says 3 months ago great article about the rockets and morey

  • Steven says 3 months ago Whatever Plan B is:
    In Morey I Trust.
  • thenit says 3 months ago

    There is pros and cons to each of the FA except for LBJ. The way howard plays today since the surgery is that his pick and rolls seems average today. In the past you could see a lot of alley oops to the rims or he will roll and dunk it. If you watch the lakers game he is clogging the lane more than actually setting a good pick. Asik is great at that but can't finish, hopefully Asik can develop some hands with regular minutes and work. I think betting everything on Howard would be a mistake since we don't know for certain about his recovery, he just doesn't seem like himself.

    Onto the plan B, I think Amare pre knee injuries would be best for the team. But to be honest I can't think of anyone who would fit that bill. Imagine Amare in his prime with Harden and Lin at Pick and roll and amare can even pop and hit a jumper. That would be the best player. I rather wait for 2014 with Paul and LBJ available even Bosh might be a better fit since he can spread the floor and can finish around the rim. Bosh is also a decent rebounder and defender. He is so undervalued.

    The core is set with Asik, Lin, harden and parsons. We have 1 all-star, top 5 player in Harden for the next 7-10 years. Parson and Lin has all star potential. Lin showed it during the Linsanity, if he can develop his jumper which I think he will and his left hand he will be close to an allstar. We don't really need an all-start guard since Harden will have he ball in his hands at the end of the game and about 50% of the time Lin is on the floor. But a near all-star Lin would be great. Right now they are one of the better offensive back court with Lin developing his flaws, it could be enough to contend.

    Parsons is already a near allstar in the sense that he can do everything. He might not be great at one thing but he is good in a lot of ways. And keeps improving each game. Look at his 3s he was not a good shooter last year today is pretty good and a good slasher too. We need a PF who can set picks and rollls and can also hit a jumper to spread the floor.

    Asik is an allstar defenisively, maybe Hakeem or Mchale can teach him some post moves in the off season it woult be great.

    Everything else is about depth and we should contend

  • khyberjones says 3 months ago Josh Smith is not the right choice. He wants to be the man and he already played with a star 2 guard in Joe Johnson for several years. Not sure he wants that again. He also takes a lot of bad shots and slows down the offense. Dwight Howard has issues with 2 guards who drive the lane. His idea of a 2 guard is Jason Richardson, guys who shoot 3s. Better choice is to go with a veteran like a Pau Gasol who will be willing to be second or third or fourth in the pecking order to Harden. I would get a replacement for Delfino, maybe a role player to do what Patterson and Morris did pre-trade, and then just let the team develop. Lin and Parsons can be all stars in this league. Why would they need anyone else?
  • timetodienow1234567 says 3 months ago

    I didn't say he wasn't a good player and it wouldn't be too difficult to change our system to integrate Pau, but it is a major shift. Pau is still an all-star player(no longer a superstar, imo), but I don't know how willing the coaching staff would be to change their system.

  • thejohnnygold says 3 months ago

    I compiled this list for a diff. thread, but it seems relevant here...

    There are a lot of different needs we can fill from that list...

    Some of my fav's are Mayo, Gortat, Webster, and Blatche...of course, price matters...just thinking player-wise

    Free Agents

    Josh Smith
    Paul Millsap
    JJ Redick
    Kevin Martin
    Wayne Ellington
    Martell Webster
    Royal Ivey
    Andray Blatche

    Player Option

    OJ Mayo
    Marreese Speights


    Greg Monroe
    Marreese Speights
    Marcin Gortat
    Samuel Dalembert

  • ale11 says 3 months ago

    I get that what's working with our team right now is our strategy, shooting a lot of 3's, but I think that that's not the chosen strategy rather than adapting to your staff. We had no PF who could put his back to the basket and have proficient post moves, so that's why we play the way we do, not the other way around, in my opinion. I think that McHale would like to have a threat at the post (and of course, Gasol would start, not Asik if you plan on playing him at C). Gasol thrived being the second option behind a superstar, and that would be his role here in Houston.

    It all depends on how much McHale would want to have a low post scorer. Despite his slump and current injury, he is still one of the best down there, besides, he is a terrific passer, if you teach Lin to shoot consistently and Asik to catch the ball, you have lots of options.

    Let's give this a thought:

    #1: give the ball to Harden to attack the rim

    #2: give the ball to Gasol so he operates from the post

    #3: make Lin attack the basket

    #4: find Parsons open for an uncontested shot, or cut to the basket if he has enough room

    #5: attract double-teams and give the ball to an open Asik so he dunks it

    In that order, you can get a gameplan that many teams in this league would like to have. I repeat, having Gasol in the post gives you tons of options given he is a great passer. If you have capable shooters from outside, we could make other teams pay for double teaming Gasol.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 3 months ago

    I'm almost 100% positive that Pau Gasol would not fit in as our Power Forward. He could be a decent backup C. But thinking about it, in our system he would be relegated to a catch and shoot 3 point player on offense and his defense is not world class. All of the reports coming out of the Houston coaching staff is how to use a "normal" big man in Thomas Robinson. Pau can shoot 3s decently, but that's not his strength. If we got him, we'd have to change our system drastically and I don't know if they want to do that. It's different if we get Dwight because then we can trade Asik(maybe for Josh Smith). I don't see a Dwight/Asik or a Pau/Asik tandem working on THIS team.

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The Daily Blast – February 26, 2013
Living and Dying by the Three
Correction: On Delfino